The Upside: If you're looking for something different, this is the car. And 600 Racing is targeting Thunder Roadsters more toward larger tracks for experienced racers looking for a new challenge.

The Downside: Unlike Bandoleros and Legends, these cars lack mass appeal so finding venues to compete might be difficult at present. Check your area tracks before purchasing one.

600 Racing

Legends Cars
H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, formerly of Speedway Motorsports and Lowe's Motor Speedway, is the brainchild of 600 Racing and its line of entry level racecars. Founded in 1992, 600 Racing has produced thousands of Bandoleros, Legends Cars, and Thunder Roadsters, which have become popular around the U.S. and in several other countries.

The cars are manufactured in Harrisburg, North Carolina, approximately 2 miles from Lowe's Motor Speedway and squarely in the heart of stock car country, so racing heritage runs deep with these little burners. In fact, the company's flagship racer-the Legends Car-is designed with that heritage in mind. Eleven Legends body styles are available: '34 Chevy Coupe, '34 Ford Coupe, '34 Ford Sedan, '37 Chevy Sedan, '37 Chevy Coupe, '37 Ford Sedan, '37 Ford Coupe, '40 Ford Coupe, '40 Ford Sedan, '37 Dodge Sedan, and '37 Dodge Coupe. The cars are meant to capture the aura of the sport's early days, when racers like Lee Petty and Buck Baker were getting started.

That's quite a legacy to live up to, but the Legends Car delivers. Two of the top young drivers in the sport today-Kyle Busch and Joey Logano-honed their skills in Legends, and the list of Legends graduates currently racing in NASCAR's top levels is rather long.

A 73-inch wheelbase and relatively narrow overall width of 60 inches make Legends twitchy and challenging to drive. Generally run on smaller ovals, these cars help drivers develop throttle control and lap consistency. Legends, in fact, are a destination for the weekend enthusiast looking for a hobby, as well as the young driver eyeing a career in motorsports.

The cars are powered by 1,250cc sealed Yamaha engines, producing approximately 122 hp, according to 600 Racing. That and their weight of 1,300 pounds, with driver, give the cars a relatively high horsepower-to-weight ratio. Twitchy indeed.

Four divisions are offered under the INEX sanction, which is also controlled by 600 Racing. The top-level Pro Divison is generally for experienced racers who've moved up the ladder, sometimes after starting in one of the three lower divisions. The Masters Division is intended for drivers age 40 and above, and the Semi-Pro class is considered a novice division for beginners or competitors with little recent experience. Then there's the Young Lions Division, where competitors between ages 12 and 18 can move into a Legends Car, often after getting a start in Karts or Bandoleros.

A new Legends Car can be purchased for $12,995. With a long list of possible upgrades, the price for a new car could easily be a couple thousand dollars more. Used cars generally run between $8,500 and $9,500.-L.C.

The Upside: Mark Martin once said if a driver can win consistently in a Legends, then he's ready for any level of NASCAR.

The Downside: 600 Racing tightly controls the hardware for these cars, leaving few options to purchase parts on the open market.

600 Racing

Allison Legacy Series
Relatively new to racing is the Allison Legacy Series, founded in 1992 by Kenny Allison, Ronald Allison, and Donald Allison, sons of NASCAR Legend Donnie Allison. In just 16 years, the Allison Legacy Series has established itself at several racetracks.